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Beaver vs. Woodchuck: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 16, 2024
Beavers are large, semi-aquatic rodents known for building dams and lodges, while woodchucks, or groundhogs, are burrowing rodents known for their burrowing habits and as a weather-predicting folklore figure.

Key Differences

Beavers are known for their impressive dam-building skills, creating complex structures in waterways. Woodchucks, also known as groundhogs, are skilled burrowers, creating extensive underground networks for living and hibernation.
The beaver, with its distinctive flat, paddle-like tail and large incisors, is adapted to an aquatic lifestyle. The woodchuck, in contrast, has a chunky body, short legs, and is more adapted to a terrestrial environment.
Beavers play a crucial role in ecosystem engineering, altering waterways and creating wetland habitats. Woodchucks, while less impactful on their environment, contribute to soil aeration and mixing through their burrowing activities.
The diet of a beaver mainly consists of bark, twigs, and aquatic plants. Woodchucks are primarily herbivorous, feeding on a variety of grasses, fruits, and vegetables.
Beavers are notable for their social family structures, living in groups in their lodges. Woodchucks are generally solitary except during the breeding season or when rearing young.

Comparison Chart


Aquatic environments, rivers, and streams
Terrestrial, open fields, and woodlands

Physical Traits

Flat tail, large incisors, webbed feet
Chunky body, short legs, no webbing


Builds dams and lodges
Digs burrows


Bark, twigs, aquatic plants
Grasses, fruits, vegetables

Social Structure

Social, lives in family groups
Solitary, except in breeding season

Environmental Impact

Ecosystem engineers, creating wetlands
Soil aeration through burrowing

Beaver and Woodchuck Definitions


A semi-aquatic rodent known for building dams and lodges.
We watched a beaver skillfully construct a dam in the stream.


Known for their role in folklore as weather predictors.
The woodchuck saw its shadow, predicting more winter.


Plays a key role in creating and maintaining wetland habitats.
The beaver's dam created a small wetland ecosystem.


Woodchucks are mostly solitary except during breeding.
That solitary woodchuck emerges mostly for foraging.


Beavers have a flat, paddle-shaped tail and webbed feet.
The beaver used its flat tail to navigate through the water.


A terrestrial rodent also known as a groundhog, noted for burrowing.
The woodchuck dug a burrow in the field.


Beavers primarily eat bark, twigs, and aquatic plants.
The beaver gnawed on a twig with its strong teeth.


They are herbivorous, feeding on grasses, fruits, and vegetables.
A woodchuck was feasting on the vegetables in our garden.


They are social animals, living in family groups in lodges.
A family of beavers lived together in a large lodge.


Woodchucks have a stout body and are excellent diggers.
We saw a woodchuck disappear into its burrow.


Either of two large semiaquatic rodents, Castor canadensis of North America or C. fiber of Eurasia, having thick brown fur, webbed hind feet, a broad flat tail, and sharp incisors used for gnawing bark and felling trees, with which they construct dams and underwater lodges.


A large burrowing rodent (Marmota monax) of northern and eastern North America, having a short-legged, heavyset body and grizzled brownish fur. Also called groundhog; also called regionally whistle pig.


The fur of a beaver.


A rodent of the family Sciuridae, belonging to the group of large ground squirrels known as marmots, Marmota monax.


A common large North American marmot (Arctomys monax). It is usually reddish brown, more or less grizzled with gray. It makes extensive burrows, and is often injurious to growing crops. Called also ground hog.


The yaffle, or green woodpecker.


Reddish brown North American marmot


Can beavers and woodchucks swim?

Beavers are excellent swimmers, while woodchucks can swim but are not adapted for aquatic life.

What do woodchucks eat?

They feed on grasses, fruits, and vegetables.

What is a woodchuck?

A terrestrial rodent, also known as a groundhog.

What is the main purpose of a woodchuck's burrow?

For living, hibernation, and protection from predators.

Do both beavers and woodchucks hibernate?

Beavers remain active in winter, while woodchucks hibernate.

What do beavers eat?

Mainly bark, twigs, and aquatic plants.

What is a beaver?

A semi-aquatic rodent known for building dams.

Are beavers social animals?

Yes, they live in family groups.

Do woodchucks cause damage to gardens?

Yes, they can be pests by eating vegetables and plants.

Are woodchucks solitary?

Yes, except during the breeding season.

What is the lifespan of a beaver?

In the wild, they can live up to 10-20 years.

How big do woodchucks get?

They typically weigh up to 10 pounds.

Are beaver dams permanent structures?

They can be, with maintenance and additions over time.

How do beavers impact the environment?

They create wetlands, which are crucial for biodiversity.

What is the lifespan of a woodchuck?

They typically live around 6 years in the wild.

Do woodchucks have natural predators?

Predators include foxes, coyotes, and birds of prey.

Can beavers and woodchucks climb?

Beavers are not climbers, while woodchucks can climb trees.

How big do beavers get?

They can weigh up to 60 pounds and are among the largest rodents.

What is Groundhog Day?

A North American tradition where a woodchuck predicts the weather.

Do beavers have natural predators?

Yes, including wolves, coyotes, and bears.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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